Ann Kirkpatrick resigned Tuesday from the Arizona House to run for a congressional seat, joining an increasingly deep field of Democratic candidates vying to succeed embattled Republican incumbent Rep. Rick Renzi in the state’s 1st Congressional District.
Renzi is the focus of a federal public corruption investigation and has withdrawn from all of his committee assignments in the House.
Kirkpatrick, a Flagstaff resident, also became the first declared candidate whose primary residence is in the northern portion of the district, which spans 58,000 square miles and takes in about half of Arizona, including the far East Valley.
The other candidates are: Attorney Howard Shanker, who owns homes in both Ahwatukee Foothills in the 5th District, and in Flagstaff in the 1st District; and former TV reporter Mary Kim Titla, who lives in Chandler in the 6th District, but plans to move into the far East Valley in the 1st District.
At least two other high-profile Democrats are considering entering the race, including former Casa Grande mayor Bob Mitchell, who still lives in Casa Grande within the 1st District. He’s the brother of Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., of the 5th District.
Also, state Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens might run. He owns homes in Scottsdale in the 5th District and in Flagstaff in the 1st District.
Kirkpatrick dismissed the suggestion that the district’s political clout is shifting from its traditional northern stronghold surrounding Flagstaff to the booming southern region of Pinal County.
The real political strength, she said, lies in the district’s numerous small rural towns, stretching from Page to Maricopa.
Kirkpatrick made education and American Indian affairs two of her primary concerns at the Arizona House.
However, she plans to travel across the district before outlining her federal campaign platform.